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Backyard – After having to remove our feeders for 3 weeks because of near daily bear visits, we placed them out on 9/5 and had a festival of our usual birds visiting: Tufted Titmice; Black-capped Chickadees; White-breasted Nuthatches; American Goldfinches; Downy Woodpeckers; Red-bellied Woodpeckers; Common Grackles; Blue Jay; Mourning Doves; Northern Cardinals. Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore
Black Vultures; Black-capped Chickadees; American Tree Sparrows Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore
9/7/20 – Sunrise Mountain
Black Vultures; Turkey Vultures; Broad-winged Hawks (2-3); Common Raven (1); Cedar Waxwings (about 12); Tree Swallows (2); Monarch butterflies (1-2) Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore
9/8/20 – Paulinskill River Wildlife Management Area/Hyper Humus
Today (9/8) Debbie Bifulco and I walked to the back pond and back at Hyper Humus-Paulinskill River Wildlife Management Area. Along the trail by pond #1 we saw at least 20 Red-eyed Vireos that were very active feeding in the trees. There was a Magnolia Warbler, 4 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak along with them. There was a Pied-billed Grebe in pond #1 as well as a Belted Kingfisher flying around. We heard a Marsh Wren quietly chattering in the reeds along the trail and then it finally popped up and gave us great looks as it clung to a dead reed stalk chattering away. This was the best look that both of us have had of this wren. The back pond had several Double-crested Cormorants and a female Northern Harrier was seen skimming over the reeds.
9/4/20 Sussex end of Liberty Loop trail/Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, I had several Red-eyed Vireos, a singing Warbling Vireo, female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Willow Flycatcher, a noisy family of Tufted Titmice along the wooded trail. At the marsh: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Green Heron, Wilson’s Snipe, Least Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs, Northern Harrier, Common Raven. Flocks of migrating Tree and Rough-winged Swallows were flying through. Another birder said he had seen a Pectoral Sandpiper.
Here at home the Great-horned Owl is screeching during the night and we have at least 3 bats (Little or Big Brown) flying over the house at dusk. Karyn Cichocki
9/12/20 – Lafayette
A couple days ago we had a singing Red-eyed Vireo in the yard. Yesterday there were about 30 House Sparrows hanging out on the back lawn, taking baths and then going into the garden where I have mulch around a park bench and taking mulch baths. I’ve seen birds taking dust baths but haven’t seen them doing it in the mulch before. Last night there was a Screech Owl calling from behind our house while the Great Horned Owl that was in our front Cherry tree was screeching.
Today I was sitting on the front stoop with my laptop while attending a Zoom meeting and I guess the Red-bellied Woodpeckers thought that I was too close to the suet feeder. The female and youngster complained so much I had to mute the computer as one of the other attendees asked what all the noise was about. A male Eastern Bluebird flew down to the lawn for a snack and tonight there were about 10 immature Cedar Waxwings eating the Cedar berries as a Common Raven flew overhead. Karyn Cichocki
9/13/20 – Montague
The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are enjoying the buffet of jewelweed blossoms and seeds in the yard, as they do here every year. This morning, one young bird was feasting among the flowers as it started to pour. The large drops caused some of the fruits to burst, propelling the seeds like popcorn and startling the bird enough that it flew for cover in a nearby tree; it was amusing to see the bird’s reaction. From what I’ve observed, the grosbeaks in my yard rarely cause the fruits to explode as they feed, so this might have been the first time the poor thing experienced why another name for jewelweed is “touch-me-not”. It’s also interesting to note that it’s primarily adult female and immature birds that feast on the jewelweed in my yard; not sure why the adult males are not as interested in dining on the plant.
There are 2 species of jewelweed that grow wild in our county: Impatiens capensis (spotted orange flowers) and Impatiens pallida (pale yellow flowers). Both are annuals found in moist, partially shaded areas. If you’re birding our county this month, look for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, bumblebees, and other pollinators drinking from the blossoms of jewelweed growing along the roads and trails in Paulinskill River Wildlife Management Area/Hyper Humus, Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, and many other public lands. The fruit is an elongated green pod that darkens as the seeds within ripen. Once the seeds are “full-size”, the pods will burst when touched, even if the seeds are still green. The seeds are propelled by plant fibers that contract/coil when the pod is opened. (The photo is an online image from MN.) The plants reseed themselves quite well by this method, so if you find a patch this year, it’s likely that there will be a new patch in the same place next year as long as soil moisture and other growing conditions remain favorable. Enjoy the late summer birds and blooms! Marianne Ofenloch
9/13/20 – Lafayette
It appears that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have moved on. Yesterday I was surprised to hear a House Wren singing in the back yard and then watched it hopping around in the Maple tree. The Red-eyed Vireo, Cedar Waxwings, and Eastern Bluebird were feeding up in the trees and we finally have Tufted Titmouse and American Goldfinch returning to the feeders after being absent from the yard for over a month. We still have a male Northern Cardinal that gives in and feeds its complaining youngster.
We noticed little piles of what looked like small brown wood chips. We couldn’t figure out what it was until we finally saw a Gray Squirrel running into the yard with a large green ball in its mouth. There is a large Shagbark Hickory in front our neighbor’s house. The squirrel is putting a lot of work into getting that hickory nut, running across two yards, across a busy street, up the tree, then runs all the way back (playing chicken with the vehicles) with a large fruit in its mouth, then sits there and chews into the fruit to get that little ½” nut, which it then spends a bit of time finding just the right spot to bury it and then starts the whole process all over again. One day we had at least ten piles of nut fruit chunks all over the driveway and yard. In all the years we have lived here, this is the first time this has happened. Karyn Cichocki
After I reported that the hummingbirds had apparently left there were several more reports of folks who still had them. After the Echinacea (Cone Flower) are done flowering I don’t cut them back so that when the seeds mature the American Goldfinches can enjoy them. This picture shows the female, but I just missed her youngster that was begging to be fed. Karyn Cichocki
9/14/20 Oak Ridge
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (a pair) continue to visit our yard and feeder.
I went by the pool, now closed, to let air out of the floats. We have a large wooden table on the pool deck, Strewn by the dozens were open hickory nuts. A squirrel must jump up on that table and patiently work at getting the nuts open……dozens and dozens of empty shells.
We had one Ruby-throated Hummingbird by the front porch feeder yesterday. The one hanging in back where the hummers were most active has been quiet. I can see it out the kitchen window. I want to thank you for the wonderful updates that include not only birds but other interesting biology happenings. I look forward to your messages all the time.
Ye, My entire family of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds was last seen Saturday AM at Culver Lake. I leave the feeder out into October for late migrants. During my sixty years here I’ve had early Oct. hummers several times.
Last Friday evening and Saturday morning we had visits lasting twenty minutes or more from this Ruby-throated Hummingbird (pictured). It went back and forth from the feeder to the swing sitting sometimes five minutes at a time or more on the swing. Jill Bainbridge (in Sparta)
9/14/20 – Still getting them here today. Kevin Cronin (Andover)
9/14/20 – Hummingbirds all day today here in Leisure Village West, Manchester, NJ. Gail Ewin
9/14/20 Sunrise Mountain-Stokes State Forest
A NW wind was blowing at 10-15 at Sunrise Mtn yesterday (9/14), and there were some Broad-winged and other hawks to be seen.
The count was: 18 Broad-winged Hawks, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Northern Harrier, and 1 American Kestrel. A local adult Bald Eagle was spotted at 7:57 am and another adult was spotted at 12:15 PM.
Other raptor species seen were Turkey and Black Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks. Speaking of Red-tailed Hawks, this sighting includes an image sequence of an immature red-tail playing with a stick, dropping it, and grabbing it after entering a vertical dive to make the mid-air grab.
Also seen were the following species: Eastern Towhee, Canada Goose, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Carolina Wren….and 2 Monarchs
I also have observed the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at my feeders for the past three evenings.
Russ Edwards (Hewitt)
It was 44 degrees this morning (9/15). No hummingbirds on our Wantage property.Patty Hefferan
There are still some sightings of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the area
I’ve had a hummingbird in the yard and at my feeder today (9/16) and for the past few days here in Fredon despite this morning’s cold temps – Lisa Armas
9/16 No hummers yesterday, but had one this morning – Kevin Cronin, Green Township
9/20 Sandy McPhail had one at her feeder near Portland PA
Allison Orsi reported seeing the Sandhill Cranes in the south pond on the Liberty Loop trail/Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge on Sat 9/19.
9/18/20- Wood Duck Trail/ Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Debbie Bifulco and I walked trail and we saw a group of about five Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Eastern Phoebe and there were Painted Turtles on anything that was sticking up above the water.
This week at home in Lafayette we have had Eastern Bluebird, Common Raven (flying over) and both male & female Purple Finch. Karyn Cichocki
9/20 – Green We had a couple Ruby-throated Hummingbirds yesterday – Kevin Cronin
9/20 – Sparta
HI Karyn, We are still seeing a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeders and visiting the flowers on our deck. No males for about two weeks – Bill & Connie Warren
9/21 – Wantage
The other night I was awakened by the loud hooting of a Great Horned Owl. The hooting was so loud that I followed it to the front door of our house. I opened the door. It was pitch black but that owl had to be just at the fringe of the woods in front of the house. I felt I could reach out and touch him. It was magical. After about a dozen hoots the owl quieted. It was a special “birding” event.
Just out of curiosity has anyone spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk in our area? My husband and I saw several of the “usual” hawks the other day but I saw one with a dark russet head and breast. That was all that was visible. Patty and Pete Hefferan
9/22 – Lafayette
Yesterday in a field near the conjunction of Snover & Decker Roads in Lafayette, there were four American Kestrels working the field. This morning the female Purple Finch was able to find a place at the feeder with many House Finches. The Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch & Tufted Titmouse swoop in to get their seed sometimes scattering everyone. We have at least six Northern Cardinals and with the crowd they have given up trying to get a place at the feeder except early in the morning or at dusk. They are usually the first and the last at the sunflower feeder – Karyn Cichocki
9/24/20 – Montague
Requiem for a bird bath. Just after dark last night, I unexpectedly lost a treasured yard feature. While in the house, I heard a pop then a crunch; when I went out to investigate, I saw that my magic bird bath was in 2 pieces on the ground and a young black bear was skulking nearby. I can only presume that it was seeking a drink due to the ongoing dry spell and that it must have leaned on the dish with its paws rather than merely sipping from it delicately like the white-tailed deer have done. I chased it away so that I could retrieve the broken parts of the bath. Bears have poor vision, which it demonstrated as it tried to run away; it kept stumbling into fallen branches and shrubbery that snapped loudly as it tried to flee through them.
This is the first time in all the years I’ve lived here that a bear has shown interest in any of the bird baths. I’ve always had at least two in place for the birds during the non-winter months, but the one it broke was magical in that over 31 bird species have used it over the years. The expected common yard birds (Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, etc.) were joined by an assortment of unexpected, sometimes surprising visitors, including Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 8 different species of warbler, and Scarlet Tanager. Butterflies, bees, Red Squirrels, Gray Squirrels, and Eastern Chipmunks have also enjoyed drinking from the water. I’ve enjoyed many hours of watching and photographing these visitors over the years, and will be attempting repairs so the birds and wildlife can continue to benefit from the water and provide delightful viewing opportunities for me.
Until then…better add emptying the bird baths to the sunset yard routine in bear country! Happy autumn, everyone! Marianne Ofenloch
We had our first White-throated Sparrow of the season show up in the yard this morning. Karyn Cichocki
9/25/20 – Hewitt.
I continue to have at least one Ruby-throated Hummingbird at my feeder. Russ Edwards
9/25/20 – Sparta
Had a quick flyby of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird this a.m. in our Sparta yard. Husband is in a battle with the Gray Catbirds who think his raspberry patch belongs to them. They are winning! Jill Bainbridge
9/25/20 – Branchville
One Ruby-throated Hummingbird continues at our feeder as of today (9/25). Great Horned Owl was calling 9/23. Late Wood Thrush 9/23 also.
Donna and Don Traylor
9/25/20 – Lafayette
I’m hearing your Great Horned Owl right now. (early morning) About 20 mins ago the Barred Owls were calling across the street. I’m guessing 2 of the young ones. Barbara Sendelbach
Note from Karyn – Barbara lives on the road that is parallel to ours on the other side of a small ridge and we share the great horneds that fly around.
9/24/20 – Culver Lake
We are still seeing a Ruby-throated Hummingbird zipping around! Lee & Terry McQuillin
9/24/20 – Byram
Two weeks ago, I had 4 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds vying for a spot at my feeder and competing with Eastern Yellowjackets. Since the cold snap, I am lucky to see two at one time. Also, I routinely hear and sometimes see Common Ravens in my neighborhood. Steve Fitzsimmons
9/26/20-Stokes State Forest
Quiet day hawk watching in Stokes State Forest on Thursday (9/24); even the locals kept a low profile with the haze. Down in the woods spotted a small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos. Fall is here. Giselle Smisko
Our last Ruby-throated Hummingbird has gone south. We had a couple of birds I didn’t recognize at first. Then I saw your 26 Sep report and it turns out they are Pine Siskins. Haven’t seen them for a couple of years.
My 4 Tufted Titmice eat out of my hand now. All the usual feeder birds are here. Bill Warren – Sparta
9/27/20 – Twin Lakes/Kittatinny Valley State Park
Tom Halliwell suggested I send you these photos. I ran into Tom at Kittatinny Valley State Park today and he found a Connecticut Warbler. Last week I ran into him there and he found a Philadelphia Vireo. Funny thing is both times he said it would be a nice bird to see before we saw them. Both seen in the Twin Lakes area. There was also a flock of American Pipits there today. Mike Tracy
9/28/20-Twin Lakes/Kittatinny Valley State Park & Andover
I’ve been enjoying some time in my new kayak recently and have also found it to be very convenient for birding on the water. In the past week at Kittatinny Valley State Park on Twin Lakes, I’ve had Pied-billed grebe, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, Common Ravens, and Merlin.
In my yard this morning I had a small group of migrants which included American Redstart and Red-eyed Vireo. I think there were some other species in the group, but the Blue Jays sounded the alarm and they all scattered. Also had Gray Catbirds, American Robins, one Ruby-throated hummingbird, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatch, one House Wren, Carolina Wren and the afore-mentioned noisy Blue Jays.
Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather! Deborah Bifulco
Dozens of migrants came through the yard this afternoon feasting on insects while the regulars flitted about the feeder.
Species seen while out in the yard from mid to late afternoon;
Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Carolina Wren, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, American Crow, Common Raven, Turkey Vulture, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood Pewee.
Saw a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird this morning, flitting among the Lantana which is still vibrant in pots on the desk. Connie Warren
I’ve been using my trail cam for years and have never had pictures of an owl. This week on the same night I got a Barred owl and a Great Horned Owl. I put out a can of cat food (which I usually do) and had a mouse a few nights earlier. The owls may have been coming down for one. The camera was out on Sparta Mt just upstream from Ryker Lake.
Videos uploaded to Flickr.
Sunday (9/27) was a bit slower. I just saw 1 Northern Parula, 1 Black-throated Green Warbler and I think a Chestnut-sided Warbler again. A Cooper’s Hawk came swooping through twice. Once in the morning and then again after 1. That kept everyone away for a while.
2 Swainson’s Thrushes were eating berries in the back and probably the grapes in the driveway. That is usually where I see them. I am amazed that Sussex Rural Electric Co. didn’t send the tree crew here this summer. There is still time. I hate the fact that the guy behind me has his lines going up so close to me. They come in every few years and take down trees and kill vegetation between me and their driveway. That is where I have a lot of grapes growing. As soon as they come by, I am sure they will cut them all down again.
9/27/2020 – Spent a little time birding on Roy Road in Wantage Twp. and was well-rewarded for the time spent. Eastern Bluebirds, Palm Warblers, Chipping Sparrows, and at least 2 Savannah Sparrows were foraging along the roadside. A huge domestic Mallard drake was keeping company with a lone Canada Goose (pale shades of the classic “Them”). Four American Kestrels were hunting grasshoppers, occasionally perching on utility wires to eat their prey.
But the most thrilling scene involved a Turkey Vulture eating something on the ground in a field. About 40 raucous American Crows were perched in nearby trees, and sometimes a few of them would land on the ground and try to slowly approach the vulture, no doubt to try and steal some food. The vulture would have none of it; it only had to lunge briefly at them to chase them back. And then I saw a young Peregrine Falcon swooping at some of the crows and chasing them about! The falcon perched briefly in a tree and then suddenly chased what I thought (or hoped) might have been another Peregrine, but it was a young Cooper’s Hawk. Both raptors alternately chased each other as well as the crows. The Cooper’s was by far the most aggressive, nearly succeeding in grabbing a crow by the tail. Each raptor also dove at the vulture a few times, but it was as intolerant of them as it had been of the crows. This drama went on for over 40 minutes until the Peregrine flew further north along the road to pursue a large flock of European Starlings and the Cooper’s left the area along with most of the crows. And the vulture? It had a full meal, losing nothing to the stalkers.
It’s days like these that make birding in Sussex County a great way to spend time! I hope you all see wonderful things this season, too. Marianne Ofenloch
Every new day brings a new visitor. Today (9/29) it was a small mixed group of American Redstarts. One adult male with three or four female/immatures. They were flitting about and difficult to get a good look at. I also had a few immature Northern Parula feeding just before the Redstarts came. The Carolina Wren chased them away. The young wrens are very territorial. They are even chasing the parents away at times.
I have also included the photo of the soggy bear cub that was looking in the back door and the Swainson’s Thrush that was feeding on berries on Sunday. Barb Sendelbach
Ant Eater sighting – Although I frequently hear Northern Flickers in the woods behind our house, they never visit my feeders and I rarely catch sight of them. So, I was pretty happy yesterday afternoon to find one in the bird bath; and today busy hoovering up ants from our pavered walkway. Based on the lack of a moustache and the muted colors, I believe this is a hatch-year male. The very friendly group of Blue Jays is also still following me around the yard, muttering softly in a very un-jay-like manner. Deborah Bifulco. (Editor’s Note: No moustache on a flicker means it is a female. Interestingly, all nestling Northern Flickers have a moustache, but after fledging, females lose that marking.)
While my husband and I were winterizing the pond this morning, I didn’t see any warblers feeding. I did see my first of season Golden-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the pine tree. The two resident Pileated Woodpeckers were working the usual trees and stumps in the woods. Barb Sendelbach
I took my cue from Marianne who birded Roy Road in Wantage. I stopped there today 9/30 and saw a Northern Mockingbird, flocks of American Crows, some Common Ravens, Blue Jays and (I believe a Warbling Vireo – the light was bad). I got to see the three American Kestrels she spotted the other day. What a joy!
Give my thanks to Marianne. Patty Hefferan.
8/31/20 – Lafayette
This morning we had an Ovenbird at our birdbath, a confusing fall warbler up in the tree and this evening a female Purple Finch on the sunflower feeder. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have created a challenge going outside as they will buzz by you or zoom up to within a foot of you to check you out, zipping back in forth in front of you. The other evening I was weeding in the garden when I heard the buzzing of wings and turned around to find an immature male checking me out. Karyn Cichocki
8/26/20 – Sussex south pond at Liberty Loop/ Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Good birding at the Sussex end of the Marsh this morning. A large flock of 100+ Tree Swallows flew south over the marsh.
Continuing birds: Great Egrets, Snowy Egret, immature Little Blue Heron, Glossy Ibis and the Sanderling. There were also Killdeer, Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral, Least & Solitary Sandpipers & several Green Heron. Blue-winged Teal have joined the large numbers of Mallards and Wood Ducks. A Northern Harrier and Osprey were soaring over the marsh and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was posing on top of a small tree branch. The Pokeberries were being enjoyed by a family of Eastern Kingbirds.
Birds heard calling: Common Gallinule. Several birds thought they heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch calling.
8/28/20 – Lafayette & Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
I get a few warblers in our Lafayette yard in the spring, but they are a rarity during fall migration other than Yellow-rumped Warblers. I noticed something moving quickly up in the trees and was happy that it was still there by the time I got my bins and even more surprised to see that it was a Canada Warbler with good color and a decent necklace across its breast. This is a new yard bird. Yeah!
Debbie Bifulco and I had long looks at a foraging female Black-and-white Warbler a week ago on the Winding Waters Trail up at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge and there have been reports of Black-throated Green Warblers around. Fall warbler identification is a challenge but is rewarding when you can identify them.
8/20/20 – Sussex south pond at Liberty Loop/ Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
A juvenile Sanderling was spotted this morning (8/20) by 2 former SCBC members as it flew into the south pool of the Liberty Marsh. As far as the club records indicate, this is the first time this species has been seen at the refuge, and at least the 6th time it’s been seen in Sussex County. (The first sighting was at Hyper Humus in 1955.) Not long after the Sanderling was seen, members of the Mearns Bird Club spotted an Olive-sided Flycatcher and some American Pipits in the same area. The immature Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and 4 Glossy Ibis rounded out the rarities at the pool today.
Obviously, fall migration is underway!
Shorebirds have been slowly moving into the refuge again; Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, and both Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs have been keeping company with the Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, and Solitary Sandpipers. Bobolink are on the move, as are both Tree and Barn Swallows. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are dining at the jewelweed and there are Pied-billed Grebes and many Common Gallinules of assorted ages swimming around. Green Herons, Great Egrets, Least Bitterns, and even American Bittern and Black-crowned Night Heron have been seen this week, to say nothing of immature passerines nagging their parents (that includes plenty of Indigo Buntings).
The refuge is certainly worthy of a visit! Please remember safety recommendations and social distancing on the trail.
Good August birding to all! Marianne Ofenloch
8/10/20 – Sussex south pond at Liberty Loop/ Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Walking along the trail from Owens Station Road, there were Marsh Wrens & Swamp Sparrows calling. Just before getting to the Liberty Loop trail I spotted 4 Glossy Ibis feeding in one of the wet areas along the reeds with a Great Egret (there were a total of 7 in the area) and several adult & immature Common Gallinules.
In the south pond along the trail the Black Tern was flying around at times being harassed by several Tree Swallows. They must be starting to migrate as there were at least 50 flying and in the trees.
Also seen in the same area, Green Heron, Pied-billed Grebe, Cooper’s Hawk and Eastern Kingbird. There was also a Common Gallinule hen with very small chicks which were a late brood.
Another birder there said that he had seen the Sandhill Crane and a Black-bellied Plover the day before (Sat).
8/5/20 – Culvers Lake
Big congrats to Fred Weber, who found 3 adult Sooty Terns flying at Culvers Lake on Tuesday afternoon at the tail-end of the storm. Birders from around the northern half of the state came to see them. A few hours later, Al Boyd found 4 more Sooty Terns flying at Swartswood Lake. There were reports of Sooty Terns being seen during and after the storm from many coastal areas along the eastern seaboard, but the county reports were 2 of the few inland reports posted so far. There were 2 reports along the Hudson River in upstate NY, but so far, we appear to have had the only birds visiting a lake.
The Sooty Tern is a bird that inhabits & breeds on islands in the tropics & subtropics, in a band that includes the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico, South America, Hawaii, and other tropical islands in the Atlantic & Pacific oceans. Its non-breeding range is primarily at sea, and they rarely land during non-breeding season. (The terns seen at our 2 lakes remained in flight the entire time they were being observed.) If they are seen near our coasts, it’s most often during hurricanes & tropical storms. The first record of a Sooty Tern in our county was in Sept. 1996 during Hurricane Fran, when an injured bird was found in the Crandon Lakes area. (Editor’s note: That tern was rehabilitated and released.) Fred’s find was the first record of free-flying birds in the county.
Birders were out looking at both lakes today, but the terns have apparently moved on — hopefully, back home to the ocean! And hopefully, all of you made it through the storm without any damage as well. Please keep safe while birding, and I hope you all see good things in the field! – Marianne Ofenloch
7/24/20 – Lafayette
Yard bird activity has slowed down a bit, but still noisy in the yard. We have another batch of House Finch fledglings and the male House Sparrow showed up this past week with his two youngsters. There are fledgling Blue Jays up in the trees around the yard whining at their parents who come to the feeder but they have yet to do so themselves. The first clutch of House Wrens left the nest box 2 weeks ago and the male immediately started to sing by the 2nd box with the female sitting in the hole.
There has been a family of Eastern Kingbirds hanging around in the trees alongside the road and last night there was a screeching Great Horned Owl sitting on top of the telephone pole at the end of the driveway. We also had another set of Red-bellied Woodpecker fledglings come to the suet feeder. We had the first set about a month ago so I don’t know if it a 2nd brood or another pair coming to the feeder.
I’ve heard Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird and Yellow-throated Vireo calling on and off in the area. The local Northern Mockingbird is singing away at 2am as well as during the day. It does a great imitation of a Carolina Wren.
If you want some fun entertainment, check out the western Texas hummingbird cam in the morning. There are now 3 feeders and I’m amazed at how civil all the birds are. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/west-texas-hummingbirds/. When there are only a few birds they appear to prefer the feeders where they can sit and drink but when the gang shows up all 3 are utilized. I can just imagine how much sugar they go through during the season.
Here at home we have a female & male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and they aren’t bothering each other, allowing a quiet drink. I have outdoor planters that are planted with tuberous plants that come from Brazil. The flowers hang down and it is fun to watch the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird come up under the flowers and once their bill is in it, bring it to a horizontal position. Karyn Cichocki
7/9/20 – Monroe County, PA
I found this Timber Rattlesnake (appears to be a gravid female) along the Appalachian Trail. It seems these snakes have learned to stay off the trail itself, staying off the beaten path on one side or the other. Also, some Hermit Thrushes, Ovenbirds, and a Scarlet Tanager were heard. Scott Rando
7/8/20 – Hewitt
The other (very hot) evening I had the sprinklers on watering my hanging baskets, it sweeps back and forth and my hummingbird feeders are in its path. A female Ruby-throated hummingbird came to feed when the water had passed by, but when it returned the bird hovered, moving with the stream of water to stay underneath it. So cool – literally for the hummingbird! Russ Edwards
7/6/20 – Lafayette
Due to the increased bear activity, we only have the window feeders remaining until the cold weather returns. All of the regular yard birds are feeding their young. A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is coming in the evenings to fill up on sunflower seed. I believe the nest is along the neighbor’s driveway. I haven’t seen any immature or females visit yet. The Great Crested Flycatchers did not return to the driveway box they used last year. Instead they are using the owl box which housed a family of squirrels in the spring. The suet cake and nugget feeders are having to be filled daily. The female Eastern Bluebird is sitting on her second clutch of eggs. There is still only male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds coming to the flowers and feeders. I have yet to see a female this year.
Earlier this week, three nights in a row, three juvenile Barred Owls and one adult were in the area. On the third day the three juveniles came into the yard. What a treat!
Two weeks ago we had a Bobcat stop in the yard to drink from the pond and do some hunting. Unfortunately, it consumed one of the immature Blue Jays earlier that morning. Later in the day, I noticed it drinking from the pond, I followed it up to the woods and watched it chase around the chipmunks. That was our first yard sighting; our second sighting in 2020 so far. We had a large adult cross in front of us on Route 15 in Sparta early one morning in March. Barb Sendelbach
7/1/20 – Lafayette
The House Wrens are busy feeding noisy chicks in the Wren box. This past week we have had in the yard Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-throated Vireo, Brown Thrasher along with the normal yard birds. We have also had Green Herons flying over the house making their cronk call. When we first moved into the house in 1994, the following summer we noticed that they were roosting in the cedar trees behind the house as well as in the cedar trees down the road from us. We see the Great Blue Herons flying back & forth but it has been many years since we have had the Green Herons. The immature Great Horned Owls have been screeching in the evenings as they are flying around. Karyn Cichocki
6/26/20 – Hyper Humus-Paulinskill Wildlife Management Area Around 7pm in the evening we saw a Virginia Rail with two chicks in the marshy area on the right near pond #4 (on the map). Hard to get pictures but here’s a shot of one of the chicks, and another of the adult-Tim Clauss
6/25/20 – John Dryden Kuser Memorial Natural Area-High Point State Park
Sandy McPhail and I walked the bog trail and had 36 species. Highlights were seeing two different pairs of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers feeding young in their nest holes. Both parents were busy flying away foraging for food and coming back to the nest. One pair was at the tree right alongside the trail that they have been using for several years now. We got to see a male nestling stick its head out. We also got great looks at singing male Black-throated Green, Black-and-white and Chestnut-sided Warblers. We also heard American Redstart and Prairie Warblers singing. Karyn Cichocki
6/23/20 – Owens Station-Liberty Loop/Wallkill River National Wildlife River Debbie Bifulco and I walked the trail from Owens Station Rd. up to Liberty Loop and back. There was a nice breeze blowing so walking the trail in the shade was quite nice. Once we got to the ponds along Liberty Loop, there were a number of Common Gallinule calling; we saw 4 singles and one pair had 8 young. A female Wood Duck had 9 ducklings. Two Least Bitterns were seen flying and we heard Virginia Rail, Red-eyed, Warbling & Yellow-throated Vireos, Marsh Wren & Swamp Sparrow calling. We had a total of 36 species. Karyn Cichocki
6/20 – Can see Baltimore Oriole nest from patio through scope. 2 young visible. Both adults look like imm. males. Black head and throat with brown spotting. Orange shoulder patch. One a bit darker, probably the male. I see another imm. male type and a full adult male at bird bath. No sources show females looking like imm. males. – Fred Weber
6/16 – Hyper Humus-Paulinskill Wildlife Management Area This morning along with Debbie Bifulco, we had wonderful looks at a Least Bittern along the reed edge in marsh 1. A Green Heron flew low over pond 1 and a Common Gallinule popped out for a split second along the shoreline. We also heard a Virginia Rail calling from the back of pond 3. Other birds seen or heard of interest; Wood Duck, Marsh Wren, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated & Warbling Vireos, Willow Flycatcher, Ovenbird, Wood Thrush & Eastern Wood Pewee. Karyn Cichocki
6/15 Lafayette Today we had a Brown Thrasher show up in the yard. It found the suet droppings under the suet feeder, dug in the seams between the concrete walkway slabs causing the ants to come out and was under the sunflower feeder with the rest of the yard group. We also had Cedar Waxwings in the yard and a Common Raven calling from the woods behind the house. Karyn Cichocki
6/12 John Dryden Kuser Memorial Natural Area-High Point State Park & Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
Don and I walked Kuser Bog in the early afternoon. Not far from the vernal pond near the beginning, we found a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hole with Sapsucker home. Warblers heard or seen included: Ovenbird, Black-throated blue, American Redstart, Black-and-white, Blackburnian, Northern Waterthrush and Prairie. There were some Red-eyed vireos also. The Blackburnian Warbler was singing in the boardwalk area. In that same section we had wonderful looks at male and female Scarlet Tanagers up close and personal. Veery was calling in several locations. Note: the trail is one way in a clockwise direction to allow for more social distancing.
Later on we headed to Kelly Road at the Wallkill River NWR and heard Alder Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting and Yellow-throated Vireo. Donna and Don Traylor
6/10 – Sparta We have Great-crested Flycatchers nesting in a dead tree next to our house. We’ve been watching them for a couple of days. They have nested in a Pileated Woodpecker hole. Excuse the photo. I took it through my scope holding my phone up to the eyepiece. Bill Warren
6/9 Lafayette – At 11am this morning I had a Bobolink calling from the field diagonally across from our house, which would be 1 mile up from Rte 15 on Beaver Run Rd. When we first moved into the house we had them show up around the 15th of May, but as the area built up we would have less and less with the final one appearing about 4yrs ago. What a joy to once again hear that call from the house. This is also the first year that I haven’t heard the Swamp Sparrows calling from the wet area down the street.
In the yard this past week we have had Eastern Phoebe, Great-crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos and Baltimore Orioles. The Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals & House Finches are all feeding their fledglings, which are a noisy bunch. Karyn Cichocki
6/3 Lafayette – I had a surprise visit tonight singing from the backyard maple tree – Yellow-throated Vireo. Karyn Cichocki
5/25 – Lafayette This past week we have had a Great-crested Flycatcher calling from the trees in our yard and it was on the ground alongside the back of the house. Also hanging around has been a pair of Baltimore Orioles. This morning a Red-eyed Vireo and American Redstart and Black-and-white Warbler were singing. We have at least 3 Gray Catbirds in the yard. A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird finally showed up at the feeder. Five Common Ravens flew over the house and they can be heard calling all around the neighborhood. Karyn Cichocki
5/22 – Around Sussex County At Hainesville Wildlife Management Area – there were still a couple of Blackpoll Warblers around, Sawmill & Park Ridge Roads in High Point State Park produced the first Eastern Wood Pewee of the season and another was heard at Kuser Bog/High Point State Park, where I also heard Veery, Wood and Hermit Thrush singing. There certainly isn’t a shortage of those 3 thrushes wherever I have birded this year. Karyn Cichocki
5/24 Jefferson Sightings At Mahlon Dickerson’s Old Ski Bowl trails, we saw Baltimore oriole, American Redstart, American Robin, Pine Warbler, Gray Catbird, American Crow, Turkey Vulture, Song Sparrow, Northern Flicker, and Pileated Woodpecker. We heard but did not see Northern ardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a hawk.
Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore
5/19 Kuser Bog-High Point State Park I returned to bird the area after a disappointing trip last Saturday and was again disappointed that there weren’t more warblers. I had another good look at Blackburnian and Prairie Warblers. I was so busy photographing a large pile of Black Bear scat that I didn’t notice the Ruffed Grouse that was perched in a tree about 4 feet from me until it flew. It was in the same area that we saw the female with young on the club field trip two years ago. I also startled a Great-horned Owl that had been perched along the board walk. There are owl pellets on the walkway.
5/18 – Lafayette This am we had an American Redstart and a Baltimore Oriole singing. The last of the White-crowned Sparrows has moved on so it has been very quiet at the feeder with only a few of the usual crowd around. The Tree & Barn Swallows have returned to the area and the Purple Martins have returned to their colony nest boxes on Beaver Run Road just before the elementary school. Karyn Cichocki
5/17 – JeffersonOn the Old Ski Bowl trails at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson, we observed:
American Tree Sparrow, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Pine Warbler, Warbling Vireo, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal (heard, not seen), Turkey Vulture, American Crow.
In the wetlands off Ridge Rd. in Jefferson, Red-winged Blackbirds. Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore
5/17 Kuser Bog – unofficial field trip: Although it was sunny and warm there was once again a breeze. I was joined by two other bird club members and after parking at the lake parking lot we walked up the road to the trail head. What was remarkable was that the leaves were still not out on the trees, which would have made the warbler viewing great. We did see many American Redstarts and Black-and-white Warblers. The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are using the same tree along the path to nest in as they have for several years now. We got an excellent look at a Blackburnian Warbler. We had a total of 31 species and 1 thrush that we couldn’t see well enough to get a positive id and could have been a Hermit Thrush.
Here is the full list of birds seen:
Canada Geese, Mallard, Turkey Vulture, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Veery, Wood Thrush, Thrush sp?, American Robin, Gray Catbird, American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Northern Cardinal. Karyn Cichocki
5/15 Had a Black tern today at Hyper Humus. Seen along back shore of pond #2. Matt Scalla
5/15 – Lafayette Several years ago I had my husband make up a wooden platform that he put up under the eve of the garage for a possible Eastern Phoebe nest, this year was the first time I saw one on the platform. The House Wren has been busy pulling out nesting material from the Carolina Wren box. The Carolinas built a nest in the box in March, but are not using it again this year, so the House Wren is busy building nests in our two wren boxes as well as taking the Carolina nest box over. Most of the White-throated Sparrows left a week ago, but up until yesterday we still had two in the yard. Saturday we had six White-crowned Sparrows and today there is still one hanging around. This morning a Brown Thrasher was under the feeder and we have had several Baltimore Orioles singing in the neighborhood. Karyn Cichocki
5/14 – Hainesville Wildlife Management Area I had a great morning of birding, spent 3 hrs and had 49 species just walking around the parking lots and down the street a bit.
Warblers: Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped, Cape May (1st picture), Yellow, Canada, Hooded & Wilson’s Warbler (2nd picture, there were at least 7).
Vireos: Red-eyed, Warbling, Blue-headed, Yellow-throated and possible Philadelphia
5/11 – The other day there were three male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at the feeder. I couldn’t grab the camera quick enough. We have a female coming to the feeder too.
5/10 – Jefferson We were so excited we hit the mother lode on Mother’s Day at the Old Ski Bowl off Weldon Rd. in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson:
Turkey vultures – 4, Red-tailed hawk – 1, Bald Eagle – 1, Northern Flicker – 1, Great Blue Heron – 1, American Robins – 4, Gray Catbirds – 2, Scarlet Tanager – 1, Baltimore Oriole – 1, Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 1, Cerulean Warbler – 1, Black-and-white Warbler – 2, Magnolia Warbler – 1, Chipping Sparrows – 2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 1, American Redstart – heard but not seen, Northern Cardinals – heard but not seen, Red-winged Blackbird – 1 (in the wetland area off Ridge Rd. Jefferson), Wild Turkeys – 2 (on Berkshire Valley Rd. Jefferson) Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore
5/10 – Branchville Today we added a new species to our yard list – Canada Warbler!
5/11 Karyn Cichoki (Millbrook Village/Watergate)- Cool breezes and sunny skies greeted the party of one (note all club field trips have officially been canceled due to the covid19 outbreak) for the annual Sussex County Bird Club Millbrook Village/Watergate field trip. Although it was an enjoyable day, the birding was a bit disappointing. Leafless trees should have gained good looks at migrating birds if there were any. After leaving Millbrook, I drove up through Walpack Village (the road to Buttermilk Falls is closed to vehicular traffic) past Tillman Ravine and through Stokes State Forest, Sunrise Mountain (road to very top is closed), Deckertown Rd to Sawmill Rd to High Point and back home. A total of 54 species were seen or heard. Highlight of the day was a great look at a Magnolia Warbler and Swainson’s Thrush.
Millbrook/Watergate – Canada Geese, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Least Flycatcher, Blue Jay, Tree & Barn Swallows, House & Carolina Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhee, Chipping & Song Sparrows, Orchard & Baltimore Orioles, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Grackle, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black and White, Hooded, Magnolia, Yellow, Pine, & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Cardinal, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Old Mine Road – Walpack – Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, American Crow, Field Sparrow
Stokes State Forest & High Point State Park – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Vireos: Yellow-throated, Blue-headed & Red-eyed, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Swamp Sparrow
5/11 Giselle Smisko- Wood Ducklings have been hatching in the last week. Mallard ducklings and Canada goslings are also appearing. If anyone comes across a duckling or gosling with no family in sight, please contact the Avian Wildlife Center immediately (973)702-1957. The young bird should be kept warm with a towel to nestle into and handling should be kept to a minimum.
5/8 Fred Weber (Branchville)- 7 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks! 4 males, 3 females, 2 male Baltimore Orioles, pair of Gray Catbirds at black oil and suet. 2 male Scarlet Tanagers passed through. Only warbler was a Common Yellowthroat skulking low. 10 Cedar Waxwings high in Oaks. No warblers up there.
Tomorrow’s count will be fun in spite of the weather. Good luck to everyone.
5/11 Karyn Cichoki (Lafayette)-We continue to have White-crowned Sparrows in our yard, there were six on Saturday. We still have a couple of dull colored White-throated Sparrows and the American Robins have 4 eggs in their nest in the Forsythia.
5/8 Wade and Sharon Wander-While walking ZuZu on the Sussex Branch Trail between Stickles Pond Road and Goodale Road in Andover Township we observed a Common Raven nest on a tower along the utility line right-of-way. The nest was built behind a large solar panel which provides some protection from weather and potential avian predators. The attached photo shows 1 of at least 2 fledgelings. One can identify it as a young bird based on its colorful gape flange that is barely visible just below the eye.
5/7 Alice Piatek (Oak Ridge- This morning, I observed 3 Red-tailed Hawks calling and circling above my home. I also had my first visit by a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the hummer feeder.
5/7- Karyn Cicholi- Mary Clauss told me about a Bald Eagle nest that is on the west shore of Lake Mohawk, I went to check it out today and there was an adult in the tree and a youngster in the nest going up and down as it was flapping its wings. The nest up in Wantage behind and south of the Farmside Garden Center also has one chick that looks like it will also fledge in a couple of weeks. I still haven’t been able to see how many chicks are at the Hyper Humus nest as there as the female has been brooding.
5/7 Marianne Ofenloch- Happy spring all! The joys of the season continue to unfold, and migrating birds are the best part of it! Vireos, warblers, shorebirds, and others have all been making appearances. Nashville Warblers seem to be widespread this week; I’ve seen one at Hyper Humus, Hainesville Wildlife Management Area, and in my yard, and other birders have seen them in Wawayanda State Parek, Walpack, & Sparta. I was delighted to see a first-year male Orchard Oriole on Tuesday and an adult male on Wednesday foraging in the same tree in my yard; the species was new for my yard. An Orange-crowned Warbler was among the assortment of other warblers moving through my yard on Weds morning. An adult White-crowned Sparrow arrived today; this species has been an annual visitor to the yard every May for many years. There was a male Indigo Bunting at Hyper Humus, male Black-throated Blue & Black-throated Green Warblers in Stokes SF & Walpack, male Scarlet Tanagers in Stokes and High Point, Baltimore Orioles (both sexes) everywhere, Yellow-throated Vireos as well as Blackburnian and Yellow Warblers darting around the high and low areas, respectively… a veritable rainbow of birds all over the county! The winner of the “Too Cute!” award went to a family of Mute Swans at Hyper Humus; the cygnets were very recently hatched (mama was still on the nest when I started my walk, then with the babies as I left). The most unusual sighting was a group of swallows (mostly Northern Rough-winged plus a Barn Swallow) feeding on goose poop, or something inside it, in the middle of the road in Walpack. Has anyone else seen this behavior before? You never know what you might encounter as you bird! Have a good week, all.
5/6 Donna and Don Traylor (Stokes and Yard)- On Sunday, May 3rd we took a short ride through Stokes State Forest and had about 45 species. Highlights included Yellow-throated vireo, 12 species of warblers (Black-throated Blue, Cerulean, Yellow, American Redstart, Hooded, Black and White, Louisiana Waterthrush, Prairie and Worm-eating among them), Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, Veery, Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Broad-winged Hawk, Chimney Swift and Least Flycatcher. At home we are watching both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wood Thrush, female Pileated Woodpecker coming to the suet, House Wren, Wood Ducks and Great-crested Flycatcher.
5/6 Tommy Sudol (Walpack)- I saw the Kentucky Warbler in Walpack this morning, same spot as last year, about 1/4 mile north of the barn/farm house on Walpack-Flatbrook Rd.
5/5 Gissele Smisko (Wantage)- A change in our yard in the last week with numerous Gray Catbirds calling, 2 male and one female Rose-breasted Grobeaks at the feeder, and a Tiger Swallowtail. Spotted a couple of returning Chimney Swifts. Nestlings so far include numerous Mourning Doves, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Carolina Wrens, Mallard eggs, and Great Horned Owlet. A word of warning, if you have not used your car in the last week or so, check under the hood for nesting birds. We received two nests from vehicles–the wrens and a nest of House Sparrows.
5/5 Marge Barrett and Joe Burgiel- Today we heard one Bobolink in the lower part of Phil Hardin Road and saw one on a wire at the upper part of Phil Hardin Road in Fredon. No doubt more will be coming soon.
5/5 Karyn Cichoki (Lafayette)- The White-crowned Sparrows are singing away and last night we had two under the feeder (pictured). Heard a Great-crested Flycatcher calling. This morning there was a Baltimore Oriole singing and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flitting around the Cedar trees.
5/4 Matt Skalia (Lafayette)- Had a White Eyed Vireo (pictures) this morning off Warbasse Junction. Saw it from the rail trail about half way between the two parking lots
5/4 Charlie Fineran (Allamuchy)- Been seeing some Great Blue Heron, working the drainage ditches in the ‘Mucklands’ off Young’s Island Road and have also seen them flying overhead going to and fro from their Pequest Rookery not far from my house out in the Pequest River riparian area.
Last Thursday driving home on Youngs Island Rd. noticed that the Barn Swallows back, darting over the fields!! They have nests in some of the small abandoned sheds in the fields.
Multiple sightings of my large resident Red-tailed Hawk. Been observing quite a few American Kestrels working the fields and sitting on the telephone poles and wires along Youngs Island Rd. The Mute Swans on Allamuchy Pond have six cygnets – I did an article for insidewarren,com about the swans and cygnets also will send out an email about same.
Observed a Cooper’s Hawk along the treeline over looking the sod and farm fields off Youngs Island Rd. Multiple Turkey and Black Vultures all the time.
Have had some Wood Ducks and Mallards swimming around the drainage ditches.
5/4 Barb Sendelbach- This weekend’s warmth finally brought pollinators, including 6 species of butterflies and my first Luna Moth of the season along with some more spring birds to our yard.
New arrivals on Saturday were Gray Catbirds and male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I heard Fish Crows which are not common in the area, calling from the ridge on the opposite side of the road. Later in the day, the local Common Ravens were making quite fuss. They were followed by 7, I assume migrant Common Ravens flying over the ridge heading down to the valley flying north. One Dark-eyed Junco was flushed from the shrub Saturday morning and at least a half a dozen White-throated Sparrows remain.
Sunday at first light, the chorus was loud coming into the open bedroom window. New arrivals were Black and White Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Wood Thrush, Great-crested Flycatcher and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak which was quickly being courted by the male at the feeders. She didn’t respond at first. She gave in about an hour later and they shared the feeder for a while before being chased off by a group of hungry American Goldfinches. The two males Gray Catbirds were fighting it out while the female was off gathering nesting material.
5/3 Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore (Jefferson)- On the trails at the Old Ski Bowl in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, we observed a Turkey vulture, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Gray Catbird, American Tree Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Goldfinch, and according to our bird guide, American Redstart and Black and White Warbler.
5/3 Karyn Cichoki (Struble RD to Tillman RD, Millbrook Village-Watergate)-Lots of Ovenbirds and Red-eyed Vireos singing along Struble Rd., Least Flycatcher by the pond, at Tillman Ravine, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Walpack – Eastern Phoebe at bridge, Baltimore Oriole, Field & Chipping Sparrows & House Wren at village.
Past the Walpack Inn a very small Black Bear cub ran up the embankment in front of me and as I was watching it I just about hit the 2nd one crossing the road, I stopped in time and it fortunately turned around and ran back into the woods crying.
Millbrook to Watergate – highlights – Brown Thrasher, Veery, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Hooded, Prairie, Black-and-white & Cerulean Warblers, Red-eyed, Warbling, Yellow-throated & Blue-headed Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Broad-winged Hawk, Baltimore & Orchard Orioles. In the Pines along the pond at Watergate there was a spectacular display by two male Baltimore Orioles competing for the attention of a female.
Lafayette – this evening we had a singing Wood Thrush out back. I can’t remember the last time we had one here.
5/3 Jill Bainbridge (Sparta)- male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. It appeared same day a year ago at my sunflower seed feeder in Sparta.
5/3 Allison Orsi (Wantage)- I saw my first of the year Baltimore Oriole today in my yard! Heard him singing first. Also saw American Redstart and my first Yellow Warbler in my yard.-+
5/3 Merle and Roger Tanis- Our backyard continues to be paradise for us! This afternoon we had an Osprey circling low over the pond… a number of times it dove for fish but was always unsuccessful. What a thrill!! We have also been enjoying a gorgeous pair of Wood Ducks and a very active Great Blue Heron. Rose-breasted Grosbeak and numerous American Goldfinches add their brilliant colors to the scene… we’re still waiting for the orioles! Hepatica and Rue Anemone are still in bloom on the forest floor, soaking up their last days of full sunlight… it will not be long until the tiny emerging tree leaves overhead create plenty of shade. And now on this warm evening we are delighting in the chorus of spring peepers who are super vocal right now, making up for lost time after all those chilly April nights. A little while ago we heard our first bullfrog of the season. Our reverie was just interrupted… one of the bears stopped by early tonight – got our feeder before we could bring it in! We like to put the feeder out each day to enjoy the finches and grosbeaks this time of the year!
One more field note… yesterday morning we were photographing the tiny leaves emerging from tree buds. As we wandered the forested ridge at the end of our neighborhood, next to the Sussex Branch Trail, we were constantly switching from macro lens to telephoto! Mini waves of migrants – Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers zoomed in quite low around us, and a local group of Eastern Bluebirds added even more joy!
5/3 Wade Wander-A few weeks ago we posted a photo of an adult Great Horned Owl on a nest very near our house. Well today I risked getting scalped to take the attached photo of the 2 very well fed young. The larger of the two hatched first and is probably a female. One of the adults was nearby so I did not linger. The photo was taken about 100 feet from the nest.
5/2 Karyn Cichoki (Lafayette)- After dinner last night I went for a walk down the street and had a Brown Thrasher singing from the top of a tree and a Yellow-rumped Warbler picking at the buds on another tree. This morning while putting the feeders out I saw two Gray Catbirds and a House Wren had returned and were singing.
This morning at Hyper Humus highlights were Warbling Vireo, Yellow & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Baltimore & Orchard Orioles, Eastern Kingbird, Brown Thrasher, Marsh Wren, Common Gallinule, Cooper’s Hawk. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird almost flew into me as it zoomed down the path. I startled a Beaver who dove into the stream and then started smacking its tail on the water. Also saw Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White & Clouded Sulphur.
5/2 Phil Winiecki- First Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the season (picture)
5/1 Jack Padalino (Dingmans Ferry)- Today brought our year’s first male Rose-breasted Grosbeak to the feeders.
5/1 Karyn Cichoki (Lafayette)- Today I saw a male American Kestrel on Decker Road on the Rte 206 end near the nest box and Wednesday I saw a female on Snover Road near a barn.
5/1 Jeff Risdon sent pictures of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting in the yard in Augusta
5/1 Connie Warren (Sparta)- We had our first of the season, male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, on the seed feeder this morning. Not sure if Bill got a picture. Six years ago we had a five year old house guest for a few days when the RBGRs were here. She would run from the kitchen window (where she needed a stepping stool ) to the dining room slider to see the “ Roast Beef Bird”. We still laugh about her name for this beautiful visitor. Her real favorites were the pairs of Northern Cardinals that we had then. As they regularly came to the feeder around 6:30 or so she would ask “When are they coming Aunt Connie? When are they coming; and sure enough they would show up as they do even now. Such sweet memories.
5/1 Donna Traylor- On Wednesday this week, our first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and male Rose-breasted Grosbeak came in. This morning over breakfast, there was a small flight at eye level in the yard. Black-and-White Warbler, female Eastern Towhee (the male has been present for about a week), Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Wood Duck exiting the box, Eastern Bluebird male checking out a box, and Gray Catbird all entertained us.
4/30 Karyn Cichoki – I put our hummingbird feeder up today and around 7pm had a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird show up and visited all the ports. It is amazing that they can fly in the high wind gusts.
4/30 Jack Padalino- Our first Ruby-crowned Kinglet arrived at our feeders this afternoon in Dingmans Ferry, PA.
4/30 Merle Tanis- This morning Roger and I were delighted to see a beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak on our feeder! Once this storm system is past, we can’t wait to see what else has moved in! Happy Birding! Same first date as 2019: 30 April.
4/30 Barbara Sendelbach (Lafayette)- As of yesterday I still had about a dozen White-throated Sparrows and two Dark-eyed Juncos continue to linger. Every day I flush them from a evergreen next to the front stairs. A nesting pair would be nice!
I’m not sure who is in the Eastern Bluebird box now. The Bluebirds started nest building weeks ago. Then the damn House Sparrows were thinking about it. They disappeared and the Black-capped Chickadees added to the nest. I haven’t seen any activity this week. I don’t want to disturb them. I’ll just keep watching.
The Carolina Wrens have a nest in the roosting pocket by the front door. I saw her sitting in it about three weeks ago. He was coming and I haven’t seen anything since then either. I have not seen two at a time in over a week. Maybe she is sitting and I just haven’t seen him going to the nest.
American Goldfinch numbers have increased in recent weeks. 22 at one point. The numbers vary depending on the time of day. The House Finch have pretty much disappeared. Numbers in the upper 20’s are now about a half dozen, if.
New visitors since last week have only been Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Chipping Sparrows and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. I have not even seen or heard any Yellow-rumped or Palm Warblers here like usual. Maybe after this front passes, the warm weekend will bring some Warblers
4/29 Marianne Ofenloch Montague- The migrants continue their gradual movements through our county. Species seen over the last few days in the Montague area have included Bonaparte’s Gull in breeding plumage, Merlin, Blue-headed Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-rumped and Yellow Warblers, and Savannah Sparrows. One of my favorite spring beauties arrived this morning: two male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (last picture) dining at the suet basket. Can’t wait to see what the coming week brings! Stay safe if you venture outside your yards, and be well all!
4/29 Lee and Terry (Culver Lake)- Lee filled up the hummingbird feeders today (he likes to have them out by May 1) and then went to the garage to put some of the older feeders away. When he came back into the house there were already two Ruby-throated birds feeding!…never have we seen them find the feeders that quickly…less than five minutes!
Over the last few days we’ve also had: multiple juvenile bald eagles hunting in our cove on Culver Lake, a wood duck pair, a lone common loon, double-crested cormorants, families of buffleheads, hooded mergansers, and an osprey.
4/29 Deborah Bifulco- I was really thrilled to see the first Gray Catbird of the season yesterday, and again today. It’s visiting the suet feeder often, and calling from various points around our property. I’ll be picking up a bag of oranges tomorrow (weekly grocery day). Today, I got my first glimpse of a male Red-breasted Grosbeak, also at the suet feeder. He must have seem me move through the window because he shot up into the trees and hasn’t been seen since. Absent thus far, surprisingly, have been ruby-throated hummingbirds and house wrens.
American Goldfinches continue to be present in much higher numbers than usual, upwards of 18-20 some days. I am pretty sure I heard the begging of young House Finches yesterday and today, so am keeping my eyes peeled for them. A Chipping Sparrow pair is nesting somewhere around our yard, as well as Northern Cardinals, Mourning Doves, and the usual suspects.
Signs of courtship are abundant with Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays and Tufted Titmice feeding each other. And, today I saw my resident Carolina Wren (who I call Left because his upper bill is deformed and crosses to the left of his lower mandible) feeding his mate. He showed up late last summer, probably a hatch-year bird, and I’ve been keeping track of him since. I initially wondered if he’s survive, but he has adapted to his crossed bill and forages by turning his head to the side and scooping things up. And apparently he’s found a mate because the two have been hanging together since mid-winter.
I have 8 Black-capped Chickadee eggs in one of my nest boxes and mom is brooding. Sadly, I think that the female Eastern Bluebird was either killed or wooed away. The nest is complete but I’ve not seen the female in 3 days. The male comes every morning and checks the box, singing loudly, then disappears for the rest of the day. I’m just leaving the nest alone for now since I’m not entirely sure what is going on.
Migration definitely seems slow this year. But, at least our state parks will be reopened this weekend and we can all get out and do some birding, wearing masks and socially distancing, of course!
4/28 Fred Weber- A Red Fox makes frequent visits to feeding area. Saw it catch a Mourning Dove last week. There may be 2. One looked smaller, slimmer. Possible pair. Brown Thrasher this morning. Third ever at feeder (on ground).
4/28 Karyn Cichoki (Millbrokk Village to Watergater Park and Lafayette)- Walking from the Village to Watergate then back to the village via Old Mine Road produced some nice birds. Northern Parula, Black & White and Pine Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hermit Thrush, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Red-shouldered Hawk were some of the highlights. There were also Eastern Towhees calling throughout the area. At the Rosenkrans property on Old Mine Rd. there were two singing Brown Thrashers. What I found interesting was that there weren’t any Yellow Warblers and there weren’t any at Hyper Humus this past weekend and they are usually here by now. This morning we had a male Eastern Towhee and Ruby-crowned Kinglet singing.
4/27 Bill and April McDaniel (Flanders)- This past week, has been a pretty exciting day for our house in Flanders, which is on a heavily wooded lot.:
– A pair of Northern Flickers (M+F) plus at least one other that remained more distant, spent a good 4-6 hours in our yard, mostly digging through the newly exposed “lawn” that had been covered through the winter with leaves.
– In the wooded lot next to ours, we observed a flock of American Goldfinches. We easily say 6-8 Males in just one area, and numerous others in various stages of molt spread out in the group, which included what appeared to be females mixed in.
– There is a pair of Chipping Sparrows nesting in one of the shrubs near the lower deck of our house. Similarly, there appears to be a pair of Tufted Titmice nesting in another shrub.
– We have also seen a pair of House Finches frequenting a branch at the edge of the wooded area in our backyard.
– A Red-tailed Hawk, briefly visited a tree at our neighbors yard, where chickens were running around. It then lost interest, but circled the area before departing.
– There also appears to be two Mourning Doves spending time in the area.
– Downy Woodpeckers have been frequent visitors lately and the drumming of the Pileated Woodpeckers have been common, and we have seen several in one area of our walks.
4/27 Donna and Don Traylor- Yesterday (Sunday) we decided to take a little ride in the rain around Frankford and Wantage. At Rockport Marsh on County Rt. 651 (Unionville Road) in Wantage, we had Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Duck, Barn Swallow and Belted Kingfisher. At Culvers Lake, there were Buffleheads, Tree Swallows and 14 Common Loons. Havendale Farm on Lewisburg Road in Wantage had a medium size mixed Blackbird flock which included some Rusty Blackbirds. On Roy Road in Frankford, we had three American Kestrels. The first, a male, was closer to the intersection with County Rt. 565. A bit farther down Roy Road was a female. There is a kestrel box (SX51) most of the way down Roy Road and there was a head popping out of it. After watching for a few minutes, the third kestrel on Roy Road flew from the box. This is the same road we had mating kestrels earlier this year. We also had two Red-tailed Wawk nests (one on Lott Road in Wantage, the second on Lusscroft Road in Wantage). On returning home, we were greeted by over 30 American Goldfinch swarming on the ground while more were hungrily attacking the thistle sock above. In the evening, Don saw an Eastern Screech Owl dart by at eye level near our deck.
Today was a five sparrow day in the yard – Song, Chipping, White-throated, Field and Swamp. Also, this morning, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrived at the feeder. Hopefully more spring migrants will show up soon!
4/27 Fred Weber (Culvers Lake)- 12 Bonaparte’s Gulls. Left while I was watching. 5 pm.
4/25 Russ- A walk through the sprawling fields of Sandfordville Elementary School, and nearby Baird’s Grist Mill (circa 1789) in Warwick NY yielded:
American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling, American Crow, Common Grackle, Northern Mockingbird, Rock Pigeon, Song Sparrow, House Sparrow, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Bluebird, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow ( and two ticks-be careful out there )
4/25 – Karyn Cichoki (Hyper Humus & Lafayette)- I took a walk in Hyper Humus late this am and it was pretty quiet. There were 2 Pied-billed Grebes and 3 Double-crested Cormorant in pond 1. I also had 4 Field Sparrows that kept ahead of me on the path and a nice look at a Golden-crowned Kinglet. I was very happy to see that the Bald Eagle nest was still intact as there were several nests that were lost in the storms on 4/13. One adult was on the nest, another was flying around as well as an immature bird. There was a family of Canada Geese.
Here at home in Lafayette, we had six male American Goldfinches show up that are fully molted. I’ve heard a Yellow-rumped Warbler singing the past two mornings from our neighbor’s yard and there were several Field Sparrows singing this morning when I put the feeders out. As I’ve mentioned before we have four Red Squirrels that have been hanging around the yard. The past few days one of them has decided it was going to get to our peanut feeder that we have hanging from the soffit about a foot away from our sliding glass doors. It climbs up the edge of the glass door in the middle as high as it can go and then leaps over to the feeder. The Gray Squirrels have tried this but have given up as they can’t get up as high before they start sliding down. To get off the feeder it just jumps off onto the ground. Very entertaining.
4/22 Alice Piatek and Alan Gutmore (Jefferson sightings)- In addition to our usual visitors, an American Tree Sparrow visited our feeders this weekend. There are still a few Dark-eyed Juncos visiting. A Red-tailed Hawk flew over our home.
4/22 Wade and Sharon Wander- Today (Earth Day) we spotted a Pine Siskin attempting to hide among the many American Goldfinches and House Finches at our feeding station in Fredon Twp. Usually this species is seen in spring only after good fall flights the preceding year.
4/22 Patty and Pete H – Pete and I went to Confession today so as we had to wait in the car I observed bumblebees crawling all over the flowering trees. They hung on tenaciously with roaring winds. On the lawn were three plump American Robins digging for worms. We saw a Broad-winged Hawk balanced on a wire on 565 peering intensely for prey.
. 4/22 Marianne Ofenloch- Hello all! Light snow and below-freezing temps were experienced in Montague for the 3rd time in a week, but signs of spring are on the rise in spite of that: a House Wren perched & singing in a tree on Sunday, a Field Sparrow singing in a neighbor’s field this morning before the winds struck, slowly opening blossoms on the Rhododendron and Crab Apple trees, courtship displays among the year-round resident yard birds, and more butterflies and dragonflies on each warm day. Winds are keeping everyone low in the bushes today, but at least the sun is shining again! Happy Earth Day to everyone!
4/20 Patty and Pete H- Pete and I saw a large flock of Rusty Blackbirds on a bridge that covers a small stream on 565 just before Winding Brook. We have two curious Northern Cardinals eyeing our rhododendron bush for a nest – maybe? I also was awakened by a loud screeching sound that really intrigued me. I looked in one of my bird books and there is it was – a Barn Owl. It is said their screech can raise the hairs on your head. It did for me.
4/19 Karyn Cichoki (Lafayette)- My husband, Don, noticed this pile of feathers under our Dogwood tree. Someone had a Northern Flicker for a meal. Most of the American Goldfinches we had are gone and the American Robins have been getting nice big fat worms from the front lawn as well as collecting nesting material.
4/18 Steve Fitzsimmons- Today, I saw 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers at my suet feeder in Byram, It was the first time I ever saw them at a feeder.
4/18 Ken Witkowski- Besides the usual feeder birds, there was a flock of 20+ Rusty Blackbirds in my yard this afternoon. Still 1 Dark-eyed Junco hanging around as well. There is also a pair of nesting Red-shouldered Hawks behind a neighbor’s house that I can see from my kitchen window.
4/17 Sharon and Wade Wander- We have observed a male Northern Flicker methodically probing the soil between the pavers on our patio. Much of the diet of this, our most common ground-feeding woodpecker, consists of ants.
The Great Horned Owls nesting on the woods next to our house in Fredon are raising 2 young. We also observed a Red-shouldered Hawk near our house with a Bull Frog in its talons.
4/16 Karyn Cichoki (Laffayette)- The pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been chasing each other around in our Dogwood tree and mating. It is quite a ritual to watch although doesn’t last very long. Attached is a picture of the line-up for the suet, Downy and M/F Red-bellied Woodpeckers.
4/16 Allison Orsi (Wantage)- What a sweet awakening this morning I had, to the song of the Brown Thrasher! An uncommon visitor to my yard, I heard a lovely song with Northern Cardinal and Wood Thrush influences, reminding me of the warmth of summer nights. I went outside to try to see him, but unfortunately, I think I scared him away. In his place, however, I saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a pair of Palm Warblers darting about the trees and shrubs, along with a Chipping Sparrow at my feeder.
4/16 Karyn Cichoki- Ruby-crowned Kinglet has been singing & feeding in our Cedar trees for the last 2 days.
4/14 Karyn Cichoki- Bonaparte’s Gull 3 PM eating insects on the surface
4/14 Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore- We continue to have Dark-eyed Juncos visiting. Other visitors include Common Grackles, Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, House Sparrows, House Finches, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy, Hairy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers. A Downy has been busy drumming a tree in the front of our home for the last 2 weeks
4/13 Marianne Ofenloch- Birds and even butterflies have begun to migrate through our area once again. Returning avian migrants seen in the Montague area over the last week have included Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, and Palm Warbler. After months of not seeing any Wild Turkeys, I finally spotted displaying gobblers here-&-there, though numbers of toms & hens are far lower than in past years. Cabbage White and Spring Azure butterflies have returned as well. The Gray Squirrels are currently performing in their annual yard Olympics — the spiral-chase (on tree trunks), feeder-pole-vault, and broad jump (from rooftop to treetop) are just some of their events. This year, two large Eastern Cottontails have made themselves at home (normally there’s only one), and the Eastern Chipmunks have constructed a large tunnel opening adjacent to the old compost bin. The first Pickerel Frog was calling on Sunday afternoon and Daffodil, Periwinkle, & Twin-leaf flowers are blooming everywhere. Spring is a good season to enjoy observing the daily emergence of new life in one’s own community!
On a much more somber note, I am saddened to share that the Bald Eagle nest I monitor in the Culvers Lake area has failed this year. The eggs were due to hatch over the last week, and while I can’t confirm if they hatched or not before the chicks died, I can confirm that they didn’t survive based on the parents not tending the nest for two consecutive days. Last year, one of the two chicks died within a few weeks of hatching, so I’m not sure if these are signs of a problem with the eagles and/or the environment around them or not. I know that some of our members like to be updated on the nest status at our club meetings, but I hate to have to share such sad news. Hopefully, the chicks in the other county nests will fare better this year.
4/13 Donna and Don (Frankford)- Chipping Sparrow showed up a week ago and is hanging out with Song and White-throated Sparrows. We have still been watching about three Dark-eyed Juncos. Our first Eastern Phoebe arrived on 4/8 which is two days past a previous late date. A pair of Wood Ducks are still debating about using their box. We have a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches with grandiose ideas. They decided they wanted a “McMansion” and have moved into the Eastern Screech Owl box. Heard Barred Owl calling one night last week. The big treat today was our Pileated Woodpecker (female) reappeared at the suet and happily pecked at it for ten minutes in the rain! All for now.
4/12 Wade Wander- The Great Horned Owl nest near our house has one fairly large nestling. The Bald Eagle nest at Little Swartswood has 2 large nestlings.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Fredon) and Broad-winged Hawk (Dark Moon Preserve in Green Twp) seen today.
4/11 Karyn Cichoki (Lafayette)-There were two Common Ravens flying around the neighborhood, chasing one another and calling back and forth. A flock of about 15 Cedar Waxwings were in the Cedar trees and two Dark-eyed Juncos were chasing each other around. I haven’t seen any in a week. The number of American Goldfinches is continuing to increase.
4/9 Fred Weber (Culver Lake)- 4 Greater Scaup this morning. 6 Lesser Scaup this evening. 15 Common Loons came in then left.
Also there were at least 80 American Goldfinches in my yard/feeders this afternoon.
4/9 Deborah Bifulco- I’ve been enjoying some quality time in my hide in our yard, watching the comings and goings. I’ve still got a few Dark-eyed Juncos hanging around and waves of White-throated Sparrows coming through every day. American Goldfinch numbers continue to be higher than usual with a dozen or more the norm. Some of the males are almost fully molted; others seem to be just starting. Several days ago I heard and saw my first Chipping Sparrows. The Black-capped Chickadees are investigating the nest boxes and I found some moss in the bottom of one, so am keeping an eye on it.
This is the fourth spring that a group of male Red-winged Blackbirds have shown up in the yard, including one with a noticeable patch of white feathers on its side. They come and go in groups of up to 12 throughout the day, singing, displaying and making their host of random noises. Yesterday, they had a lady with them – the bell of the ball…
The biggest surprise this week was a big, fresh Black Swallowtail!
4/8 Karyn Cichoki- Palm Warbler (picture attached) arrived and was feeding on driveway
4/8 Lynn- I had an eastern whip-poor-will calling last night in Frankford
4/7 Wade and Sharon Wander- The nest built by Red-shouldered Hawks last year very near our Fredon Township house was usurped this year by Great Horned Owls. We have seen the cotton-top head of one small chick occasionally bobbing up and down above the rim of the nest and have watched it wolf down some morsels offered by its mother. We can observe the nest through a spotting scope set up in our dining room. Because the nest tree is in a ravine the nest is at eye level for us. The photo was taken at a distance of about 100 feet.
We also found a red phase Eastern Screech Owl in a tree hole near our house. The photo was taken from inside our car.
4/7 Karyn Cichoki- Dark-eyed Juncos have left
4/6 Karyn Cichoki-Heard a Chipping Sparrow singing from our neighbor’s yard today.
4-5 Giselle Smisko (Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge)-Coincidentally I just got back from hiking Owens to Liberty Marsh. The flock of rusty blackbirds has grown to at least 50. The American Toads were calling.
There was a pair of Pied-billed Grebe in the south pool
4/5 Karyn Cichoki- (Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge & Lafayette)- I walked the trail from Owens Station Rd. up to Liberty Marsh – Song, White-throated, & Swamp Sparrows, a flock of 50+ female Red-winged Blackbirds, 20+ Rusty Blackbirds (see picture) along the trail at the Owens Station Rd. end. At Liberty Marsh – Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Great Blue Heron in striking breeding plumage. Weird bird calls were coming from the marsh area along the trail, which more than likely were Common Gallinule but didn’t sound quite right. I saw two other birders on the trail; one said it was the Coots calling and the other Pied-billed Grebe. Listening to the calls when I got home it sounded like something in between the Grebe & Gallinule. As I know the Gallinule breeds there it was probably their call. There was an American Kestrel on the wires along Owens Station Rd. near where the nest box is.
Here at home we had a male Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, pair of Eastern Bluebirds and I heard a Field Sparrow calling from down the street, which is the first of the year.
4/4 Fred Weber- 6 Wilson’s Snipe at the Culver Causeway on both sides of Mute Swan nest 5 pm. 4/1. Also 4 female Greater Scaup, about 100 Buffelheads and a female Red-breasted Merganser on lake.
4/4 Bill Warren- Yesterday I circled Lake Mohawk. Lots of Bufflehead – a few in several locations, some Herring Gulls (60-75). I was too far to sort them, but it looked like a few Black- backed gull (sp) were mixed in. I did see 5 Ring- necked Ducks near the bridge to the island.
4/4 Patty and Pete Hefferan- Saw a Bald Eagle while driving on Rte 565. When they passed Winding Brook Farm they spotted a Peregrine Falcon perched on a telephone pole over the brook. Our shared thoughts revolved around the endless surprises in Sussex County just driving a rather short distance. Wonderful.
4/3 Karyn Cichoki Culvers Lake and Lafayette)- By Causeway, drake Green-winged Teal on north side near Mute Swan nest, Buffleheads and Common Loon on Lake. Also small groups of drake Ring-necked Ducks were on several small ponds in the area. At home beside the increasing number of American Goldfinches in various stages of breeding plumage we are also seeing White-throated Sparrows showing up in breeding plumage,
4/2 Russ (Wawaymda State Park)- Cooper’s Hawk over beach parking lot flying south over Pumphouse Trail, Eastern Phoebe along Main Park road (between Park Office & Old Wawayanda Trail)
also Canada Geese, Mallards, Hairy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmice, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird
4/1 Fred Weber- 2 White-crowned Sparrows Myer Rd. Above Plains Rd. past top of hill by narrow grassy pond. 10 am
4/1 Karyn Cichoki- The last two days we have had a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the yard either feeding or drinking from the Maple flowers & Cedar branches. The pairs of Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers are chasing each other around and the male House Finches and Northern Cardinals are feeding their lady friends.
4/1 Donna and Don Traylor- A male purple finch frequented our sunflower feeder today in Frankford.
3/31 Donna and Don Traylor- Two new yard birds here in Frankford this morning – fox sparrow and a male eastern towhee.
3/27 Fred Weber (Culver Lake)- Good show from west shore this evening. Breeding plumage Common Loon fairly close called twice, flew across lake, belly landing. 2 pair Long-tailed Ducks. One male and both females mostly breeding plumage. Other male non-breeding. About 40 Buffleheads some courting and flying around. Female Red-breasted Merganser at 6:30-7 pm
3/27 Karyn Cichoki (Hyper Humus)- This morning there was a nice assortment of ducks along the south shore of pond 2. Several pairs of Green-wing Teal, Black & Wood ducks, a lone Gadwall and a pair of American Widgeons. I saw the first female Red-wing Blackbird of the year feeding on a Phragmites seed head and a Belted Kingfisher announced himself as he flew down the canal.
Here at home we had a few new male American Goldfinches show up that have quite a bit of yellow on them along with the start of their black caps.
3/27 Deborah Bifulco- Earlier this week, I had my first Eastern Phoebe of the year singing in the yard. And today, I caught a flash of yellow outside that definitely wasn’t a goldfinch – my first warbler of the season! A solitary Pine Warbler paid several visits to both the suet and sunflower chip feeders, much to my delight. The woods behind our house are alive with the sounds of American Robins, American Goldfinches, House Finches, Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals and White-throated sparrows . Red-winged blackbird males are daily visitors now, along with the random Common Grackle and Brown-headed cowbird
3/27 Patty and Pete- My husband and I decided to sit down by the lake in the late afternoon. We spied two pair of Common Mergansers sailing around the lake. We also saw a Great Blue Heron. The skunk cabbage is poking through. We will listen for the Spring Peepers. They are a particular joy
3/27 Donna and Don Traylor- At least four American woodcock were peenting and displaying this evening on Mattison Reservoir Road in Frankford.
3/27 Giselle- Liberty Marsh on March 21 I had a flock of at least a dozen Rusty Blackbirds next to the trail going to Owens Station.
Also had northern shoveler, northern pintail, ring-necked duck, green-winged teal, American black duck, mallard, mute swan on a nest, fish crow, tree swallow, Canada goose, song sparrow, calling spring peepers and the Mid-Atlantic coast leopard frog….and a lot of people practicing social distancing with at least a turkey vulture’s wingspan of separation.
3/26 Russ Edwards- (This morning) I also had a bald eagle, (mature), over Lake Wawayanda (soaring east to southwest), Great Blue Heron and (4) Eastern Painted Turtle (I’ve counted a dozen+ in this location on nice sunny mornings), and 3 Eastern Phoebe at trail sign on main road where Iron Mtn Trail intersects.
3/26 Karyn Cichoki- This morning there was an immature Bald Eagle souring over our house. I heard the first Eastern Phoebe calling from our neighbor’s yard. Last night a huge Black Bear got to the peanut feeder. I saw him walking away with it and then found it this morning. It was in the shape of a snowman made out of mess, broken in two and completely flattened. We will be bringing the feeder in at night now.
I also heard the first neighborhood Spring Peepers calling last night and other birds calling in the neighborhood, Killdeer & Common Raven.
3/26 Fred Weber (Culver Lake)- Pair Long-tailed Ducks coming into breeding plumage – beautiful. 3 Red-breasted Mergansers.
3/22 Karyn Cichoki- A couple of days ago our front yard was invaded by about 15 American Robins and a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds. What was entertaining about this is that one of our resident Red Squirrels busied itself running around the front lawn sitting up and looking at the birds. I don’t know if it was interested in what they were eating or was concerned that they were eating something it had buried in the yard
3/21 Fred Weber (Culver Lake)- 24 Horned Grebes (18 in one group). Varying degrees of breeding plumage. 5 female Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Pied-billed Grebes. Culvers around 5:30 PM
3/21 Peter and Patty Hefferan- We have heavily wooded property and have always enjoyed the woodpeckers of all types that make our property their home. We particularly enjoyed a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and family who set up home in a woodpecker tree that exactly faces our front porch. We would sit by the hour and and watch the male as he set up home. The two raised a happy family. Well, they are house hunting again. We have every hope that our woodpecker tree will be home again to a Red-Bellied Woodpecker family. We hear his call every day and our fingers are crossed. We will keep you posted.
3/21 Karyn Cichoki- Saw the first Tree Swallows of the season today. There were a couple of Black Ducks and several pairs of Common Mergansers along with all the Mute Swans, Canada Geese and Mallards on pond 2. A few Spring Peepers were calling. The Bald Eagles have finally started to incubate and both were on the nest today.
3/21 Marianne Ofenloch- Happy spring morning to all! There are signs of the new season everywhere, from flowers to young green grass to migratory birds arriving with each new frontal system. A male American Goldfinch sporting a lot of his spring gold brightened the feeder during the gray morning on Friday. The Brown-headed Cowbirds have returned to the yard, which is more a “lowlight” than a highlight. Species returning to Culvers and Swartswood Lakes have included Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, and Eastern Phoebe. A pair of Northern Shovelers were at Hainesville Wildlife Mgmt Area for a few days; as far as I know, that was the first time the species has been seen there. American Woodcocks are performing around the county at dusk, and Killdeer are courting in many fields during the day. Resident Mute Swans, Canada Geese, and Great Blue Herons are all building or tending nests, while many waterfowl species are pairing, with drakes calling and displaying their finery. Each day will bring something new, so enjoy the hope that comes with the season, and be well!
3/21 Alice Piatek and Alan Gutmore- We have a Red-bellied woodpecker drumming daily on one of the oak trees in front of our home. We continue to have Dark-eyed juncos. Visitors include Downy woodpeckers, Black-capped chickadees, Tufted titmice, White-throated sparrows, House sparrows, American goldfinches, Northern Cardinals, Bluejays, American robins, Wild Turkey and Black vultures soaring.
3/21 Donna and Don Traylor- The birds certainly knew it was the first day of Spring. Yesterday at Lusscroft Farm in Wantage Township we heard the following: Carolina wren, Song and Field Sparrows, Pileated woodpecker and Eastern phoebe. Later, driving down Roy Road in Wantage, the male American kestrel was sitting on the wire. On the way back up the road, we sighted a female kestrel. A moment later the male kestrel appeared and they commenced making little kestrels!
Spring peepers were very loud in our yard last night. Wood ducks are swimming in our stream. Still are a good number of dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows, too.
3/21 Fred Weber-About 60 Scaup sp. (bad shimmer), and 20 Long-tailed Ducks in one flock. 3 Horned Grebes, female Red-breasted Merganse
3/20 Matt Skalla- Had a flock of 24 Snow geese in a corn field off Limecrest-Randazzo Rd (on border of Lafayette Township. Something I hadn’t seen before was 22 of the 24 were blue-phase geese.
3/19 Russ Edwards- I headed to Liberty Loop hoping to see the Sandhill Cranes which have been reported for the past few days; did not see them but had 2 Great Blue Heron, Northern Pintail (8 on the back pond and several on the main pond), at least 8 pair Blue Winged-Teal in one group and several more in another, Mallard, Canada Geese, 1 male Belted Kingfisher, Red-winged blackbirds, 2 Red-tailed Hawk (one circling the west side of the loop, other in dead tree on NY side of Oil City Rd., Turkey Vulture (circling farm to the east of the loop), 4 Mute Swan; a muskrat which drove the dog nuts (but no partridge in a pear tree)
I would add that yesterday at Liberty Look from the Oil City viewing area, we had several Black Ducks and one Ruddy Duck.
3/19 Wade and Sharon Wander- On Thursday, March 19, we saw a small flock of Rusty Blackbirds at Kittatinny Valley State Park. From the parking lot on Limecrest Road walk south toward the old barn. We saw the flock in the swamp just south of the barn. You may hear their squeaky calls before you see them. Rusty Blackbird is one of the most seriously declining species of moths and land birds in North American.
3/19 Karyn Cichoki- We are up to six American Goldfinches. It appeared that the batch of Dark-eyed Juncos that have been in the yard all winter had moved on and now we have another batch that arrived yesterday singing away. There are lots of White-throated Sparrows, more than we have had all winter so I guess they are moving through as well.
The Mourning Dove is sitting on its so called nest, six twigs on the crossover of two Cedar branches. The Coopers Hawk was hunting in the yard again yesterday and I heard an Eastern Bluebird and Turkey calling from our neighbor’s yard.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is once again using our gutters for its sounding board and the Downy Woodpecker is drumming on the telephone pole.
3/19 Eileen and Glenn Mahler- today we checked out waterfowl at Swartswood Lake: Canada Geese, buffleheads, several mute swans, several Common Mergansers, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, a group of Ring-necked Ducks and our first of the year, 3 Pied-billed Grebes.
3/18 Donna and Don Traylor Yesterday our first ruby-crowned kinglet made an appearance. Today I couldn’t believe my eyes when a pileated woodpecker landed on the suet cake and started to chow down. Wood ducks arrived back a week ago in what used to be a stream but has become a beaver pond! So it feels like Spring is quickly approaching- there is hope.
-3/17- Photo taken at Lake Tamarack by Jim Winters & submitted by Alice Piatek
3/17 Fred Weber- Pair Long-tailed Ducks Culver Lake mid day
3/17 Patricia Hefferan- Two kingfishers on the wire over Winding Brook Farm (Rte 565) seen today. We have been watching these birds for 20 years. They are apparently very long lived. 😁
3/17 Matt Skalla- Had a Long-tailed Duck this morning on pond 2 at Hyper Humus.
3/17 Mary Clauss- Around 4:30 today we saw 6 Sandhill Cranes at Liberty Loop, 2 young and 4 adults. Looking out from the parking lot they were about halfway up the left side (around the point where you can see a little farm with a barn and silo off to the left in the distance).
3/15 Karyn Cichoki- Today I had a female American Kestrel and Eastern Meadowlark sitting on the wire alongside the road.
3/10 Karyn Cichoki- The Song Sparrow that I spotted in late December that is missing a foot was back under the feeder yesterday. This morning I noticed a Mourning Dove on the front lawn picking up sticks and flying into one of our Cedar trees with them. This is the first time that I’ve noticed them doing this in the yard. When I was growing up on LI we sometimes found eggs lying in the grass alongside our family home. My father kept his long ladders hung up against the house and the doves would make their version of a nest, a few sticks put on part of the latter. Because there was nothing to really hold the eggs in the nest, they rolled off.
3/10 Russ Edwards- A lone snow goose on Wawayanda Lake this morning (when the weather was at it’s bleakest).
3/10 Karyn Cichoki- My husband, Don, has been working in the garage and this week the Carolina Wren has been checking out the inside. This morning there were 3 hanging around the outside, singing. Yesterday I noticed that there were sticks in the Carolina Wren next box and today when I looked at it I could see a stick moving and up popped the wren, looked at me for a few seconds before it flew off. I still haven’t heard any Spring Peepers calling but last night I finally heard Wood Frogs calling. They sound like ducks quacking in the woods.
3/6 Terry McQuillin- The feeders have been extremely active recently with birds of all sizes including: Common Grackles, Red-winged Black Birds, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches, Eastern Goldfinches, Slate-colored Juncos, and Downey Woodpeckers.
We’ve also had American Robins fly by along with Bald Eagles and a very beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk. In addition to our resident Mute Swans we continue to see on the lake Buffleheads and Common Goldeneye. The Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers seem to be gone but several pairs of American Wigeons just showed up along with a pair of Wood Ducks. We’ve also spied the muscrat back in business going to-and-fro.
3/5 Terry McQuillin- Just saw three Bald Eagles over Culver Lake…two juveniles and an adult. One of the young birds caught a good size fish and the other two chased it for a bit before flying away.
3/3 Karyn Cichoki- This past week we had our first male Cowbird of the year in the yard and the Dark-eyed Juncos have started their twittering. I heard American Robins, Eastern Bluebird, Carolina Wren calling when I took a walk down the street.
Hyper Humus – saw the pair of Bald Eagles mating in the tree next to the tree their nest is in. Then near the Rte 94 parking lot there was another eagle that had a dirty white head with brown feathers and no white in the tail. I could tell the male of the mating pair was a full adult but I didn’t get a good look at the female so I don’t know if there were 2 or 3 birds. Also heard Hairy, Red-bellied, Pileated Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds calling and there was a pair of Hooded Mergansers on pond 1.
2/27 Karyn Cichoki- Lafayette – we had our first American Robins of the year in the yard yesterday. Every morning two male Red-winged Blackbirds join the usual group of birds under the feeder. They calls from the wet area down the street from us are joined by the singing in the yard by the House Finches, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow and Carolina Wren.
We drove up to the Sussex/Wantage library yesterday and saw flocks of Common Grackles and Robins along the way.
2/23 Alice Piatek- About a dozen common grackles were feeding in our backyard on the suet and seed today, February 19
2/18 Karyn Cichoki- We had an immature Coopers Hawk show up this past weekend on our park bench
2/18 Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore- Sighted at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson on Monday, 2/17, 1 Red-tailed hawk, 1 Turkey vulture, 1 American crow.
On Russia Brook in Jefferson, 2 Mallards were sighted.
It was very quiet in both locations.
2/17 John Fuller- Snowy owl at bridge on quarry road up near Union Isle.
Did not stay long
2/17 Alice Piatek & Al Gutmore- Sightings today at Swartswood State Park included Red-tailed hawk; Fish crow; Mute swans; Canada geese; Common mergansers; Buffleheads; and Snow geese (?). It was very quiet there today.
On Main St. in Sparta, a northern mockingbird was observed.
2/14 Karyn Cichoki- On Wed we had 2 male Red-winged Blackbirds and a lone Common Grackles, with at least some Red-wings mixed in.
In previous years we get a Song Sparrow in the spring and fall, but last fall and through the winter we have had at least 4 hanging around almost every day.
Yesterday driving around I saw a huge flock of mixed blackbirds, mostly Grackles on Statesville Quarry Road in Lafayette.
2/11 Karyn Cichoki- We had our first male Red-wing Blackbird of the year under the feeder today.
2/11 Russ- I made the drive out to Westtown (NY) today (junction of County 62 & Lower Rd.) and got a brief 3-4 minute sighting of the Golden Eagle first reported Feb. 3rd on Orange County rare bird alerts (and in Middletown NY on 1/30/2020) Also had two Red-tailed Hawks in the same vicinity, and a third in Pine Island.
2/7 Alice Piatek- Visitors today included the usual gang – Dark-eyed juncos, Black-capped chickadees, Northern cardinals, Bluejays, White-throated sparrows, Tufted titmice, Downy and Red-bellied woodpeckers, White-breasted nuthatches and Mourning doves. There was quite a flurry of activity.
2/5 Terry- As I was passing the pond by the fairgrounds I spied a single snow goose among the dozens of Canada Geese.
2/2 Deborah Bifulco- I am continuing to see large numbers of Snow Geese around Andover Township, including several thousand flying over the house this morning in huge skeins, filling the air with their sounds. Hard to tell if they are migrating or just moving around and I saw groups traveling north, west and south.
Yesterday I had my first Purple Finch of the year at the feeders, briefly. He was in with about a dozen American Goldfinches. The wild turkeys continue to visit daily, duking it out with the squirrels for the tray feeder. Interestingly, the squirrels will go after the hen turkeys, but not the toms.
1/22 Karyn Cichoki- Yesterday we had about 10 Cedar Waxwings in the yard and this morning a lone American Tree Sparrow. The Red-bellied Woodpecker was drumming briefly on the gutter before he got on the peanut feeder. I also noticed a American Goldfinch which had a very yellow chin and his black cap feathers starting to come in.
1/20 Karyn Cichoki- Yesterday, we had a lone Common Grackle hanging around the feeders. It spent more time approaching them than actually feeding. I was watching one of the Cornell Lab bird cams that is stationed in Fort Davis, which is in western TX. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/west-texas-hummingbirds/ The feeders are being invaded by Pine Siskins. Their feeders are very active with a variety of birds and it is very interesting to see some of our birds in western plumage.
1/19 Debra Bifulco- As usual, during the snowfall last weekend, my feeders were doing a landslide business. Big numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows as well as 8 Northern Cardinals, a half dozen American Goldfinches (some showing signs of spring molt already), one Song Sparrow and 3 American Tree Sparrows. The following day I had one Red-winged Blackbird, one Common Grackle and about 20 Brown-headed Cowbirds, in addition to all the regulars. For the last month, I’ve had daily visits from six Wild Turkeys; three toms and three females/juveniles. I usually always look before I go out, so as not to startle them away from the feeders. The other day, however, I was rushing and didn’t look and when I walked out the back door, three turkeys took flight! It was quite a sight to see – 3 galloping off into the woods while 3 landed high up in the maple and hickory trees. As of today, I still have one American Tree Sparrow and one Song Sparrow hanging around – these are species I only really see at my feeders during inclement weather.
1/18 Karyn Cichoki- Once it started snowing today there was a feeding frenzy at the feeders. I was quite surprised to see about 15 female & male Brown-headed Cowbirds under the feeder.
1/18 Alice Piatek- Our yard is filled with playfully clamorous feathered friends enjoying their meal throughout this day of falling snow. Our visitors include: 4 male Northern Cardinals and 3 female Cardinals; 1 Carolina Wren; 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker; 1 Downy Woodpecker; 3 Mourning Doves; a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos; 1 House Sparrow; a dozen White-throated Sparrows; 1 Song Sparrow? (heavily streaked, dark breast dot, longer tail which he pumped up & down); 3 White-breasted Nuthatches; 1 American Goldfinch; and 2 Black-capped Chickadees.
1/14 Bob Cappuccio – On Jan. 14 the day I began my drive to Florida. the fields along Rte 519 in Belvidere were loaded with thousands of snow geese. Took a few photos with my cameraphone and posted on fb.
One of my former students who lives in that town said she has them every year. Numbers appear to be growing
1/2 Donna and Don- 2020 began with quality rather than quantity in our Frankford yard. The typical winter birds were enjoying the feeders but we were surprised to hear and see a belted kingfisher in the stream. Around 10pm an eastern screech owl was calling softly in the backyard. Additionally, we were treated with a great view of a barred owl at dusk on George Hill Road. Happy New Year!
1/5 Lee and Terry McQuillin (Culver Lake)- We have been watching lots of Bald Eagle activity and antics this morning. First an adult female was eating a fish while sitting on the ice. She was joined by a male who sat patiently until she eventually let him have some of her fish. After he ate a bit they started “courting.” The courting consisted of lots of togetherness, head bobbing, and calling. Soon after, the juveniles flew in and began jousting—at one point there were five (looked like first year) storming each other.
1/8 Al Boyd- The eastern screech owl in our yard – which is featured on the club website – has reappeared after being absent for a year or so. At least I think it’s the same bird. It sits out in the hole most days even when the sun isn’t shining on it.